A Guide to the Eighth Amendment
The Eighth Amendment, or Amendment VIII of the United States Constitution is the section of the Bill of Rights that states that that punishments must be fair, cannot be cruel, and that fines that are extraordinarily large cannot be set. The Eighth Amendment was introduced as a part of the Bill of Rights into the U.S. Constitution on September 5, 1789 and was voted for by 9 out of 12 states on December 15, 1791.
Understanding the Eighth Amendment Line by Line
If you are confused by what each line of the Eighth Amendment means, here are some good explanations to make the Eighth Amendment easier to understand:
“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed”: The courts are not allowed to assign an accused person a large and excessive amount of money for bail. This is because if they could, a judge would have the chance to judge someone early on and set a bail amount based on that.
Bail is the property or money given to a court as a promise that the accused person will return for his trial. If the accused person does not show up, he or she will lose their bail money or property. The amount of bail assigned depends on the type of crime committed and the chance that the accused person will return for his trial. If the crime is very serious, the bail will be higher.
“Nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted”:
According to the Eighth Amendment, punishments cannot be cruel or unusual. However, it is not exactly clear what cruel and unusual really means. When the Eighth Amendment was written, the Framers were considering situations where severe punishments would be used, such as being strangled, branded, or burned, or being locked in stocks. The Eighth Amendment works to prevent these types of punishments.
History of the Eighth Amendment
The Eighth Amendment is almost exactly the same as a part of the 1689 English Bill of Rights, which also said that excessive bails or cruel and unusual punishment were unnecessary. This provision was written in because of a case where a man named Titus Oates lied and caused many innocent people because of it. His punishment resulted in being in a pillory for two days, and being whipped while tied onto a moving cart. Later on, this case was thought of one that had very cruel and excessive punishments. Because of this, the Constitution now forbids these punishments since they are unnecessary, not approved of by the people, and are very illogical.
Facts about the Eighth Amendment
• The Eighth Amendment is a part of the Bill of Rights, which were introduced by James Madison
• The Eighth Amendment also applies to the States.
• Some punishments are completely forbidden under the Eighth Amendment, such as taking away a person’s citizenship, or painful and hard labor.
• Because of this amendment, there are very rules laws for the death penalty (for example, death by firing squad is not allowed).